Hello, Underwood

There were many teary eyes on the weekend of the Sadie Hawkins dance as students gathered in the basement of Commons to say one last goodbye to their beloved Ryley Room. With the depressing winter chill on our doorsteps, however, it is obvious that these tears were not entirely sentimental. The library, a previous campus social venue, is now cracking down on students who are not studying, the Ryley Room is closed and Commons is about to be replaced by Uncommons. Places available for students to hang out and take shelter from the cold are quickly disappearing. The Ryley Room, which had served as a cozy escape from the harsh New England winters, was arguably the most popular social scene at Phillips Academy. Underwood Room has recently replaced the demolished Ryley Room as the main room for future dances, social functions and other student events. “I feel like Underwood doesn’t have a designated space to socialize, whereas Ryley Room had tables and sofas that encouraged hanging out,” said Riley Gardner ’10. “There isn’t going to be anything to do now, since Ryley was the one place we could all go after classes or on the weekends to relax and catch up with friends.” The first official Underwood dance in the history of Phillips Academy, the popular blacklight dance, took place this past weekend. Many students seemed to agree that the lack of distractions, such as television and junk food, helped to create a livelier atmosphere and attract a bigger crowd. “During the blacklight dance, I felt like a lot more people were dancing and that the dance floor seemed bigger,” said JJ McGregor ’08. “It made a big difference that there weren’t any tables or booths to get in the way, so people were in a sense forced to dance instead of sit down to socialize and eat.” Michelle Kown ’09 said, “I thought it was a lot better than the previous Ryley dances because it was much more spacious and organized. The only bad thing was that there wasn’t any food or water available, whereas in Ryley you could easily sit down and eat whenever you were hungry.” Without its usual carpeted floors and awkwardly placed furniture, the Underwood Room seemed a lot less like a living room and a lot more suitable for weekend dances. The lighting and newly installed sound system created a sleek, trendy ambiance in which students were able to have a surprisingly good time. However, a common complaint that the students shared was that the heat generated within the Underwood Room was excessive and almost unbearable. “It felt like I was in a steamy glass room,” said Mollie Lee ’10. “It got to the point where I had to step outside several times to avoid suffocating.” Despite grieving over the closing of Ryley Room, the blacklight dance held in the Underwood Room proved to be a huge success. With its great music and high energy, it is clear that Underwood dances are events that students can look forward to as the Winter Term draws near.